Deshaun Watson maintained his innocence and strongly denied committing any sexual misconduct despite allegations made by 22 women against the Cleveland Browns' new starting quarterback. At his introductory news conference on Friday, Watson showed little emotion while saying he's done nothing illegal, the AP reports. "I've never assaulted or disrespected or harassed a woman in my life," Watson said, flanked at the dais at the team's headquarters by Browns general manager Andrew Berry and coach Kevin Stefanski. "That's not how I was raised. I've never done these things people are alleging."
It was the first time Watson has answered direct questions about the allegations, which surfaced in March 2021. Watson didn't play last season for the Houston Texans as the cases mounted. For nearly 40 minutes Friday, Watson was asked about his character, the charges against him, and how he'll attempt to rebuild his image. He acknowledged there are people who will never believe him. "All I can do is keep moving forward and to continue to show the person that I am, the true character, the true person, the true human being I am," the 26-year-old said. Watson dismissed the possibility of undergoing counseling, because he says he's been falsely accused. "I don't have a problem," he said.
On Thursday, a second grand jury in Texas decided not to indict Watson on one of the original criminal complaints of sexual misconduct. While Watson hasn't been indicted on criminal charges, he's still facing civil lawsuits. Berry defended the team's decision to trade for Watson, who has been accused by two dozen massage therapists of unwanted sexual activity during private sessions. He has always claimed any sex was consensual. "We as an organization know that this transaction has been very difficult for many people, particularly women in our community,” Berry said. "We do have faith and confidence in Deshaun as a person," he added.
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